The world is "dangerously unprepared" for future pandemics after the COVID-19 crisis hit three years ago and killed more than 6 million people globally, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned in a scathing new report.
The humanitarian aid organization said in its World Disasters Report released Monday that "many countries" were not prepared for COVID-19 and that "all countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks".
The IFRC said that countries "need to start preparing now, because our world is becoming increasingly hazardous" as it cautioned against not only disease outbreaks but also climate- and weather-related disasters.
"The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the global community to prepare now for the next health crisis," Jagan Chapagain, the IFRC's secretary general, said in a statement.
Chapagain added, "Our recommendations to world leaders center around building trust, tackling inequality, and leveraging local actors and communities to perform life-saving work."
"The next pandemic could be just around the corner; if the experience of COVID-19 won't quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?" he questioned.
More than 6.8 million have died from COVID-19 worldwide since the pandemic began in early 2020, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
That's more deaths than any earthquake, drought, or hurricane in recorded history has caused, the IFRC said in its report.
The world's largest disaster response network said in the report that by the end of this year, every country should have updated plans for pandemic preparedness and "should have reviewed the relevant legislation to see if it too needs updating".
Pandemic preparedness plans, the report says, "should include concrete measures to strengthen equity, trust, and local action".
By 2024, according to the report, all countries should adopt a new treaty and revised International Health Regulations.
The report also recommends that by 2025 countries should increase domestic health finance by 1 percent of gross domestic product and global health finance by at least US$15 billion per year.
"While COVID-19 was a new virus that presented new challenges, there are countless common measures and approaches that could have mitigated the pandemic's impacts," Chapagain said in the report.
"Notably, governments could have made far greater investment in emergency preparedness at the community level."
He continued, "To ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes, the critical lessons from this pandemic must be embedded into national laws, policies, budgets and actions".
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